Saturday, October 2, 2010

Something magical

For anyone who has not seen the classic animated film The Last Unicorn, the opening credits can be viewed here - and pay close attention to the music (yes, that's America):
When the last eagle flies over the last crumbling mountain
And the last lion roars at the last dusty fountain
In the shadow of the forest, though she may be old and worn
They will stare, unbelieving, at the last unicorn

When the first breath of winter through the flowers is icing
And you look to the north, and a pale moon is rising
And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
In the distance, hear the laughter of the last unicorn:
I'm alive
I'm alive

When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning
And the future has passed without even a last desperate warning
Then look into the sky, where through the clouds a path is torn
Look and see her, how she sparkles - it's the last unicorn
I'm alive
I'm alive
If you do not remember the plot, a quick refresher: the last free unicorn (after discovering she is the last) seeks, with some unlikely help, the other unicorns, which have been trapped by a selfish king. In order to save them, she must take on human form - clearly an archetype of incarnation - but in doing so she becomes different from them, because she experiences human emotions, which unicorns cannot. The world itself is fully of magic, but there is no "good magic" and "evil magic," but instead the magic, which is used to good or evil ends by any given character with the knowledge of how to access this magic.
There is something in the song, and the story, which I think speaks of an almost unbearable hope. There is not simple a silver lining to clouds - the whole world hides magic just out of sight. Even when all seems lost, when winter's grip is worst and one cannot even imagine spring, "in the distance hear the laughter of the last unicorn," because she knows it is all a cycle, she knows the magic underlying the world, she is as intimate with the winter wind as with the summer sun. My own soul aches when I hear this, because of this knowledge. It is not a mere cozy memory of childhood and a familiar movie, it is a truth that speaks to the Truth. Fairytales, and their modern equivalents, speak to such truths because, like scriptures, they were a means to convey spiritual wisdom from one generation to the next. (I remember distinctly a scene in Religulous where Maher asks a devoutly Baptist woman in a Christian bookshop whether she would consider using a book of fairytales as a religious scripture instead of the Bible. She was, unsurprisingly, appalled. I, on the other hand, left the theater mildly upset that Maher would thus mock the spiritual power of fairytales.)
It all boils down to something I have said over and over - that true religion is not about doctrines or dogmas, but a way of viewing the world. If we are willing to see magic in the world, then that magic truly does exist.


  1. Joe Bruce aka Violent J.October 3, 2010 at 3:07 AM

    I got a better song about magic.

  2. I agree, Kelly.

    I have had that same thought so many times concerning fairy tales. What I usually say to more strictly religious people is something like, "I am not trying to bring down religion. I am trying to elevate imagination!"


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